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Ancient Greek Philosophy Main References: Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. Tr. by G.M.A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1975. -------. Symposium.

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Presentation on theme: "Ancient Greek Philosophy Main References: Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. Tr. by G.M.A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1975. -------. Symposium."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ancient Greek Philosophy Main References: Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. Tr. by G.M.A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett, Symposium. Tr. by Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett, The Republic. Harmondsworth: Penguin, The Last Days of Socrates. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993.

2 Popper, Karl. The Open Society and Its Enemies. Vol. I: The Spell of Plato. Princeton: Princeton U. Press, Aristotle. The Athenian Constitution. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Ethics. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Politics. Grinnell: Peripatetic, Bambrough, Renford. The Philosophy of Aristotle. New York: Mentor, 1963.

3 In ancient Greece, at the earliest stage, physics, mathematics, and astronomy were included as parts of “ philosophy ”, which means “ the love of wisdom ”.

4 It seeks to trace everything back to its “ ultimate grounds ” (typical characteristic of a philosopher). What is the origin of the universe? (Cf. Stephen Hawking of our time) Philosophy seeks to know why there is a universe at all. The law of causation -- everything, which has a beginning, has a cause. (Plato, “ the unmoved mover, the uncaused cause = the prime mover ” ).

5 The earliest [pre-Socratic] Greek Philosophy: the Ionic School (in Ionia, coast of Asia Minor): Thales, Anaximander, Aniximenes, etc. Thales (c B.C.): founder or father of the Ionic School of ancient Greek philosophy, famous for his mathematic and astronomical learning and practical wisdom. Thales believed that (1) the principle of all things is water, that all comes from water, and to water all returns; and (2) the earth is a flat disc, which floats upon water.

6 The significance of Thales is not that this “ water ” philosophy has any value in itself (it seems that this philosophy is wrong, according to nowadays science [yet there are still some people, who believe that the earth is flat, and they have formed a “ flat Earth Academic Society ” ), but that this was the first recorded attempt on natural and scientific principles (not by myths and Gods).

7 Thales asserted that the ultimate reality is “ water ”, but later, some other ancient Greek philosophers believed in other things: Anaximander (c B.C.)-- “ indefinite matter ” Anaximenes (c B.C.) -- air Pythagoras ( B.C.) -- number Heracleitus -- fire Empedocles -- the 4 elements (earth, water, fire, wind) Therefore, this first stage (pre-Socratic) = essentially cosmological in character.

8 The second period of ancient Greek philosophy = the “ sophists ” and Socrates/Plato to Aristotle = the maturity of ancient Greek philosophy

9 Socrates Born in Athens ( B.C.) Ugly, yet mind was creative, clear, critical, and eager Socrates was first interested in natural science, including “ whether the earth is flat or not ’, but he was not satisfied with the result of his research; so he abandoned the study of natural science and turned to the study of human life.

10 In teaching method, Socrates did not use “ spoon- feeding ” method, but “ dialogue -- questions and answers ” (cf. Confucius, The Analects or Lun Yu). Socrates liked using examples of daily affairs to enlighten his students. “ educare ” (Latin) = to lead (like a “ mid-wife ” helping the mother to give birth to her baby).

11 Socrates ’ divine mission “ was to expose the ignorance of those who thought themselves wise ” (Apology [*Apology is Plato ’ s version of Socrates ’ speech to the jury for his own defense in his trial]; cf. C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, at the end of the story, the Lion asked Prince Caspian if he was ready to be King. Prince Caspian answered modestly that he was still a child only. The wisdom is: those who thought themselves ready usually are NOT ready [because they are too proud, or they thought too highly of themselves; on the contrary, those who are modest, they are probably close to be ready).

12 “ What did Socrates really know? ” Socrates did not claim to know anything Socrates did not think he knew a lot. But, the Delphi ’ s Oracle, “ no one is wiser than Socrates ” ! Probably, Socrates knew that he was ignorant, but the others did not know that they were ignorant.

13 (Cf. Confucius, The Analect, “ say you know when you know, say you don ’ t know when you don ’ t know, that is know-how or knowledge or wisdom ” ) Socrates belittled his own knowledge; in fact, really honest thinkers are seldom impressed by their own ability. The companies by whom Socrates was constant surrounded were not so much as disciples but were as friends who loved him and drew inspiration from him.

14 Socrates liked to use dialogues with careful definition and logical thinking + systematic questioning, such as what, where, when, why, how, etc. Socrates, “the greatest power on earth is the power of reflection.”

15 In 399 B.C., 3 Athenian citizens accused Socrates of (1) “ heresy ” (or “ impiety ” ); (2) did not believe or observe the gods of the polis; and (3) “ corrupted the minds of the youth ” !

16 According to G.M.A. Grube, “ at the time of his trial and execution in 399 B.C., Socrates was seventy years of age. He had lived through the Periclean Age when Athens was at the pinnacle of her imperial power and her cultural ascendancy, then through twenty-five years of war with Sparta [the Peloponnesian War, B.C.] and the final defeat of Athens in 405 [404 B.C.], the oligarchic revolution that followed, and, finally, the restoration of democracy. …

17 His ‘ mission, ’ which he explains in the Apology, was to expose the ignorance of those who thought themselves wise and to try to convince his fellow-citizens that every man is responsible for his own moral attitudes. …

18 Not surprisingly, Socrates was often confused with these Sophists in the public mind, for both of them were apt to question established and inherited values. But their differences were vital: the Sophists professed to put men on the road to success [and to teach people rhetoric or how to argue with no moral responsibility as long as the Sophists got paid; (Socrates/Plato called them ‘intellectual prostitutes’)],

19 whereas Socrates disclaimed that he taught anything; his conversation aimed at discovering the truth, at acquiring that knowledge and understanding of life and its values that he thought was the very basis of the good life and of philosophy, to him a moral as well as an intellectual pursuit. ” (The Trial and Death of Socrates, pp. 1-2).

20 Plato ( B.C.) born in Athens, of noble birth, yet his youth witnessed the decline and fall of Athens (in 404 B.C., Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War; + in 399 B.C., the trial and execution of Socrates, his beloved mentor/master, via “ democratic ” ways, [thus, Plato preferred Spartan timarchy to Athenian democracy (which was with ‘ selfish individualism, civic irresponsibility, diversity, disintegration, dislike of authority, no respect for the authority, class war + lack of cohesion, that is, all negative)]).

21 After the execution of Socrates in 399 B.C., with final disillusionment, Plato left Athens and traveled, including to Syracuse in southern Italy. In 386 B.C., Plato returned to Athens and founded the Academy where he taught for the rest of his life (d. 347 B.C.).

22 Plato used the dialogue form of writing as the most effective means of presenting his philosophical ideas. It was not Plato ’ s intention to answer specific question or to propose final and dogmatic solutions to any of the problem that were being discussed.

23 Plato preferred instead to do something that would stimulate original thinking on the part of the reader. This manner of presentation enabled Plato to present contrasting points of views as they would likely to occur in a series of conversations taking place among individuals having different points of views.

24 Finally, by using conversational method (dialogue), it would be possible to illustrate way in which current issues of the day were related to one another. This is one of the reasons why not one of Plato ’ s dialogues is devoted exclusively to the discussion of a single topic. Plato wanted to make it clear that in order to understand any particular subject, you must see how it is related to other subjects and to the field of knowledge as a whole.

25 Plato ’ s Republic: With theories of government; It represents what Plato regarded as the ideal toward which actual states should strive [it is a little bit too idealistic; in a later and considerably longer dialogue titled, The Laws, Plato proposed a less idealistic but more practical alternative for the organization of state government].

26 Timarchy (Sparta) Oligarchy Democracy (Athens) Tyranny To Plato, “ democracy was controlled by the ignorant majority; and there was no order/discipline. Yet, there were political/class/power struggles, disorder, and wars. ”

27 The philosopher-king (of Gold quality with wisdom, benevolence, yet little desire) = the ideal ruler [Plato believed that only those persons who possessed intellectual as well as moral qualities should be entrusted with the power to rule over others]

28 Auxiliaries (of silver quality with bravery, + obedient to the philosopher-king) = warriors [protecting/defending] Citizens (of iron quality with a lot of desires) = ordinary people, such as farmers and workers [to produce accordingly] Each should behave “ accordingly ”, [then, everything would be in order, (but, in reality, that ’ s not the case. A lot of people, such as Hitler, would believe that they are the “ philosopher- king ” !)]

29 Plato believed that there was an ideal state (or the perfect polis/republic [cf. Thomas More ’ s Utopia]) up above in heaven; and “ this world of phenomenon is not the real world but pale, imperfect reflections of ideal models. ”

30 Chapter 7 in The Republic: “ The Allegory of the Cave ” In the cave, people faced the deep end (like a screen) with lights coming from the entrance [objects were pale shadows/reflections in the screen, yet people got used to it and believed those were the real objects].

31 Yet, some philosophers (like him) went outside of the cave and found the truth/reality, and because of the sense of duty as a philosopher, these philosophers tried to tell the truth [but in vain].

32 Nevertheless, Plato ’ s conclusion: “ objects that we perceive through our senses are merely pale, imperfect reflections of ideal models that exist in a world invisible to us. ” To Plato, knowing reality is not by doing/observing experiments [like Aristotle ’ s science], but by thinking/contemplating [like pure mathematics].

33 Later books influenced by The Republic: St. Augustine, The City of God Thomas More, Utopia Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis James Hilton, The Lost Horizon

34 Just the opposite, there were books/literature criticizing these kinds of “ ideal ” world: Aristophanes, Birds Jonathan Swift, Gulliver ’ s Travels Aldous Huxley, Brave New World George Orwell, 1984

35 Plato, Symposium According to Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff, “ The Symposium is one of Plato ’ s best known and most influential works.... The dialogue presents at least four different aspects to its readers, … First of all, the Symposium contains a series of speeches on the subject of love [eros], and this is the main reason most readers are attracted to it. Second, it contains one of the most explicit and vivid descriptions of a Platonic ‘ form, ’ the Form of Beauty, which according to Socrates ’ speech, is the final object of all love. …

36 The Symposium [usually is translated as dinner party or feast, but literally means “ drinking together ” is an account of a banquet given by the young poet Agathon to celebrate his first victory at the dramatic contest …

37 The general Greek word for “ love ” is philia, which applies indifferent to the feelings of friends, family members, and lovers. Eros refers to particularly intense attachment and desire in general. Most commonly, however, it is applied to passionate love and desire, usually sexual, and to the god who personified that state. … Homosexual Heterosexual

38 [Nevertheless, the Symposium] presents a revisionary, otherworldly conception of love and a metaphysical vision to support that conception. … that Plato has succeeded in convincing generations of readers that his idea of love is not simply a wild philosophical fantasy but rather an ideal according to which life can almost be lived. …

39 The Symposium is to be read and savored for all these reasons: for its philosophical views -- the theory of love, the description of the Form of Beauty; for its literary elements … and for the product of the interaction between these two … (Symposium, xi - xxvi)

40 Plato: “ if you don ’ t know that you are ignorant, you are really ignorant. ” (cf. Zhuang Zi). Plato loved and respected Socrates, his teacher and friend. In his later years, Plato is reported to have said, “ I thank God that I was born Greek and not barbarian, free and not slave, male and not female, but above all that I was born in the age of Socrates. ”

41 Plato ’ s questions and answers are still valid today = “ The Prince of Philosophy ”, because (1) Plato asked many of the fundamental philosophical questions that philosophers still ask today; (2) many of Plato ’ s answers have been continuously meaningful and are still meaningful for us today.

42 According to Whitehead (a renowned 20 th century philosopher, who concluded at his article for Plato in the Encyclopedia Britannica), “ modern Western philosophy is only footnotes to Plato. ”

43 Aristotle (c B.C.) Born in Stagir, Macedonia, son of a physician, studied under Plato in his Academy, teacher of Alexander the Great Works: (1) scientific: Physics, The Generations of Animals, … ; (2) philosophical/political: Ethics, Politics, Metaphysics.

44 Aristotle was praised for his contributions in natural science, such as biology, zoology, … by his approach of classification and observation in experiments (contrary to Plato, his teacher) On ethics, Aristotle believed in “ the golden means ” (between the extremes) [cf. Confucian chung yung]

45 According to Renford Bambrough, “ Darwin testified to his [Plato ’ s] hugh achievement as a biologist, ‘ Linnaeus and Curvier have been my two gods, but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle. ’ …

46 Aristotle ’ s master and his pupil [Plato and Alexander the Great, respectively ’ were the two greatest men of his time, with the possible exception of Aristotle himself. The association between Aristotle and Alexander has naturally exited the imagination of later ages: the future master of the known world … makes a romantic picture. The probable truth is that neither had any marked effect on the other. … [Aristotle ’ s main approaches and interests were opposite to Plato ’ s] …

47 Alexander ’ s achievement was to transform the world on lines of which his tutor had no inkling, and there is little evidence that he shared Aristotle ’ s academic aspirations. He is reported to have financial support to Aristotle researches in biology and to have instructed his subjects to help Aristotle with his search for objects of scientific interest. ” (The Philosophy of Aristotle, pp ).


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